I'm not sure how many of you are familair with Paradox Interactive or play much in the way of grand strategy games, but a couple years ago Paradox released Darkest Hour (commonly called 'DH' for short) to some modest fanfare. DH is a grand strategy game focused around WWII and the years leading up to it, and maintains a lively modding community thanks to the fact that most of the game files can be accessed and easily altered in notepad.
Folks have talked about modding the Crimson Skies setting into one of Paradox's games before, but as far as I can tell nothing's ever come of it. I've been reluctant to do anything about it myself, since the maps for these WWII games Paradox have released generally don't give North America many provinces to play with, which limits strategic gameplay in a Balkanized America scenario. Recently, however, one fine fellow has been working on a map mod for Darkest Hour which greatly increases the quantity of provinces overall on the map and, happily, does not neglect to add provinces to North America. The project as of yet does not add many provinces to Canada, but I'm happy to work with the current version he's released which as least has a ton of provinces to the United States. Thus far, I've managed to do this:
(click for a larger image with the UI)
You'll note that the map varies slightly from the canon. For one, the game doesn't do 'Hic Sunt Dracones' areas like the Disputed Territories well-- I had to include organized governments in those areas, because that's one limitation of the game I had to work with. I ended up including a creation of this very forum, the Big Sky Republic, as part of it, along with a derivative of the Comstock Republic called the Sagebrush Republic and the made-up Bighorn Confederation and Palouse Territory. Note that those flags are mostly placeholders, because I don't know what else to do for those things at the moment. I'm also waiting for an update to the map mod before anything else is done to Canada.
Other parts of the globe have also been tweaked, including Europe. Background canon has vaguely mentioned the Soviet Union imploding, but there's also Soviet zeppelins flying around near Pacifica in the PC game, so here the USSR starts off in the middle of a civil war between Stalinist forces, Left Opposition/Trotskyist forces, and Right Opposition forces, with independence movements stirring up trouble in Ukraine, the Caucasus, and the Urals. Central Europe has been redone slightly, with Bavaria (as a monarchy) split off from Germany as part of the Treaty of Versailles, Transylvania independent between Hungary and Romania (seemed appropriate for the pulpish feel of CS) and a Free State of Fiume still present in the Adriatic (because why not).
China has also been redone, engulfed in a slightly different Warlord Era. The National Protection War went awry, with neither Yuan Shikai's government nor the Republican KMT able to properly defeat each other. China collapses into warring fiefs, with the Beiyang Empire ruling in the north and a fractured Nationalist movement bickering amongst themselves in central China (divided between the Left-KMT in Wuhan and Right-KMT in Nanking). Because of the bickering, Communists have been able to remain in Jiangxi and remain friendly to the Left-KMT. South of them lies the Hai Dao Clique (in dark gray) and the South China Republic (dark green).
One thing that's worth talking about the DH game mechanics is the way technological research and the military works. There's a preset variety of units in the game, which can be upgraded with research over time. What this means for a Crimson Skies mod is that not all countries can field all planes at any given time; at best, a country can be given special localization and image files which designate the 1930 Interceptor unit as a Fury and the 1937 Interceptor as the Avenger (or what-have-you), and that's that. One sort of plane for one unit in a given year. Most planes have been assigned for most of the CS-verse American states for the Interwar period, but the game that this mod's based off can run all the way to 1964-- I've started making up models to fill in all the roles for all the years, like the 'Grumman G-80 Firebreather' for the Empire State in 1944 or the 'Topeka T-1b Cornhusker' for the People's Collective earlier on, but I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to filling all that in.
So what's left to do?
- Firstly, I've used ideas and models from forum discussions and the Zeppelins and Bombers pdf, and it would be good form if I went and asked you all for permission to keep those features in the mod. If you want Z&B material or the Big Sky Republic or what-have-you removed, I'll do that and try to come up with something else, but it would be greatly appreciated if that stuff could be kept in the mod with your guy's blessing.
- Events are needed. I've written a few, but just don't quite have enough ideas rattling around to fully flesh out the game. Darkest Hour itself is generally very event-driven, and most major wars in the vanilla game (such as the German invasion of Poland in 1939) are triggered by events, rather than the AI spontaneously deciding to do that on its own. Elections, event chains that can lead to wars, declarations of war themselves, alliance offers, province transfers (like the Saar Plebicite forcing France to cede the Saarland to Germany) and events which add or subtract from dissent (a thing which causes production inefficiency and a chance of partisan rebellion if it gets too high) are the most common sorts of events seen in Darkest Hour.
- What is the shape of the world from 1939 onward? I know this is something CS generally tries to avoid having any clear answer to, but it's something that needs to be addressed for a Darkest Hour mod. A World War Two-ish sort of war would be fun and useful for anyone who wanted to play a power outside of America, and the game likes it if there's a defined Axis(-like), Allies and Comintern set of alliances, which generally help define who the Big Players are and establish who's who in WWII. Going from various CS material, it seems as though France is a far more active player here than historically (sending Foreign Legion troops to participate in the Spanish Civil War, for example), and Britain likewise is far more aggressive (the Hawaiian plan in the PC game). Combined with the talk in another thread here about Edward VIII possibly staging a coup, I had the idea of redefining the Axis as being the British-led Commonwealth (led by a more autocratic King Edward), France leading the Allies (called the Entente because why not) and leadership of the Cominterm to be given to whichever faction wins the Soviet Civil War. Good idea or bad idea?
So there's all that then. If you've managed to slog your way through all that, whaddya think? Does this sort of game interest you guys at all? Should I continue on with all this? Am I missing some fundamental point of Crimson Skies which means that making it fit into a strategy game is kind of stupid? I'm all ears.